Agents of SHIELD: SpaceTime
Last week was a foray into a parable about civil liberties, Trumpism and indirect references to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie. This week SHIELD turned back to their main A plot for the season, and a good old fashioned science fiction motif: the time paradox.
“Because that’s what she’ll yell when they come out of the sky”
Now, personally, I love time paradoxes, especially a good causal loop. And causal loops abounded throughout the entire episode, from the prologue–where our victim called Daisy because he knew she would be with him when he died, so she was with him when he died because he called her–through to that final vision of the ruby droplets in space that opened our second half of the season. In between, we got one of the clearest and most concise explanations of the fourth dimension on network TV, as well as interesting turns of events on both the SHIELD and the Hydra side of the playing field. Suddenly, the introduction of Gideon Malick’s daughter two weeks ago in the bumper takes a much more ominous turn.
But before we get to all that, we should talk about Charlie, our Inhuman of the Week. (The monsters of the week are so rarely monsters anymore.)The concept of an Inhuman power where touching someone means you see their future is one of the more interesting powers to surface this season. (I mean, they can’t all control electrics or metal or some variation thereof.) Unlike most, who can come to see their allergic reactions to fish as a blessing, a gift from god, or otherwise the best thing to happen to them, Charlie was never going to see this as anything but a curse. Because to see the future, and become a Cassandra, is a curse. Besides the fact that seeing the future isn’t a good thing. What is the future, other than death for someone, an end to things, entropy? Anyone with that ability would go mad. And keeping that ability around for more that 44 minutes would ruin most storytelling tropes. Which is why it only made sense for Charlie to be a one and done character this week.
Simmons: “We can reverse engineer the vision…”
Fitz: “You can’t, fourth dimensionally and all. If you saw the future, then that’s the future.”
Before we get to the plot points, I just want to take a minute for Fitz’s explanation for the fourth dimension, and how we experience time, versus how two-dimensional people would experience a line drawn on a stack of paper. That was the clearest, cleanest, easiest top understand explanation of time as a fixed path. (Seriously, how did the rest of the SHIELD staff not follow?) It also plays directly into this season’s “we’re all fated to be doing this” philosophy that’s been popping up over the course of the season. I am of two minds with the “it’s all fate” stuff, since there’s a level where it chalks up what’s to come in big letters. For instance, anyone who thinks that it was coincidence that Andrew came back to SHIELD and gave himself up so the Good Guys could have Inhuman killer Lash in storage, on the same day they discover Ward’s return as Inhuman monster Hive will be quickly disabused of that once Andrew starts babbling on about how his turning into Lash is “for a higher purpose.”
Speaking of Hive–and I think with the move to the brand new wardrobe of Voldemort type robes, we can safely stop calling him “Ward”–the show moved quickly to swap him into the Big Bad slot, and demote Malick in quick succession. Though the first half of the episode played along that Malick is in charge, and that Hive is merely a brand new right hand man for him–albeit one who can suck the flesh from humans instead of stopping bullets with a wave of his hand, by the hour’s end, it was clear that Malick was no longer calling the shots. The turning point was the suit–Hive convincing Malick to put on the ridiculous robot couture in order to discover what it was like to kill people took the Hydra leader from him lofty perch and down to earth–especially since it is just a suit. Once he was knocked over while wearing it, he was effectively trapped. Even Giyera, for all his hesitations and taking offense at the anti Inhuman talk, follows Hive over Malick. As for the vision Charlie gave Malick that put the fear of god into him? Well for that vision, we’ll have to wait and find out.
Lincoln: “I never saw the original Terminator”
Coulson: “You’re off the team.”
Whatever it is, as we learned this week, it’s not something he can escape. Over and over this week, we had people attempting to fight what Charlie showed them–from the corporate exec signing over his whole company, thinking it will avoid the visions of things to come, –to Daisy rehearsing her vision over and over in order to best the video game that is life, none of it mattered. (Though I will say, the sight of actors rehearsing their character’s future fight choreo over and over as a scene in order to perfect it later in the hour was meta fun.)
Not only could they not avoid the visions, but in every case they misunderstood them. The corporate shill failed to understand the vision was not something he could avoid. It was merely a vision of things to come, and signing things over was irrelevant. Daisy may have tried to change the details to avoid her visions, but time simply went on happening. The alarm was tripped anyway. Lincoln was bloodied anyway. Simmons and Fitz held hands as white flakes (ash, not snow) drifted over them. But like Daisy mistaking the ash for snow, she mistook Lincoln’s blood for his death–no, just a head wound. She mistook Charlie’s needing saving when it was really her who needed saving. But his death came anyway.
Andrew: “I know becoming an Inhuman changed me”
May: “And you needed a PhD to figure that out.”
But not before one last vision, flashing forward again to the gold cross and the blood floating in the space. What does it mean? When will it happen? before the May 17th finale or on it? For these and other questions, we’ll just have to wait until next week. Along with how Coulson deals with the discovery that he didn’t just fail to kill Grant Ward–he turned him into something beyond what they are capable of dealing with themselves.